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Sir Nigel Gresley overhaul – update 4

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In The Works, the overhaul of Nigel Gresley continues. Locomotive Engineer Darrin Crone provides us with an insight of the previous couple of weeks’ work.

This is the fourth update – if you haven’t read the previous posts, best start there first.


Week commencing 16 May

We are now only loading the General Utility Vehicle (GUV) with parts as they are removed from the loco. Work in the GUV this week included the installation of new lighting, which is a great improvement. On Friday the van was shunted out of the workshop and left next to the support coach, which will be very useful when we have more parts to put in it and enables easy access to a shore power supply.

The space vacated by the GUV has been left clear for 60007 to be shunted forward on to the wheel drop. The loco has received it’s final preparation for the wheel drop. The accommodation bogie which will support the front of the loco has been prepared and the bogie pivot nut removed.

One of the main activities of the week was the preparation of the inner firebox plates for inspection. One of our volunteers spent 3 days in the firebox thoroughly cleaning the plates using soft abrasives to ensure only surface contamination was removed and no copper. The firebox is now ready for detailed inspection.

Malcolm Hutton after spending 3 days cleaning the inner firebox plates so that they can receive a detailed inspection.

Malcolm Hutton after spending 3 days cleaning the inner firebox plates so that they can receive a detailed inspection.

Work resumed this week on the removal of the lubrication system. By the end of the week all of the lubrication system between the frames and behind the smokebox saddle was removed. This only leaves the lubrication pipe work to the pistons and valves.

The inner firebox gleaming after cleaning on 20 May.

The inner firebox gleaming after cleaning on 20 May.

On Saturday the lower part of the cods mouth door was removed. This is the last part of the streamlining to be removed. The door is fastened to a section of plate by welded on hinges. The plate in turn is riveted to frame brackets. These rivets were drilled out and will be replaced by bolts so that the plate can be easily removed in future and will assist in accessing the space between the bufferbeam and the centre cylinder.

Week commencing 9 May

This week work has concentrated on the final fitting out of the GUV and moving removed items in to it. The shelving was completed on Tuesday and the opening announced by a ceremonious cutting of a tape. As soon as the tape was cut we started to move parts in to the GUV and after a couple of days the area around the loco had been considerably cleared. While we were loading the GUV the last jobs such as securing the last of the floor boards and fitting the improved locking were completed. Nearly 300 tagged items were moved in to the GUV and their new locations recorded. It must be noted that non-ferrous castings and our valuable parts, such as name plates, number plates, are not being stored in the GUV.

Bob Shearman and Alan Pitt making the last racking shelf

Bob Shearman and Alan Pitt making the last racking shelf

Bob Shearman the GUV project leader opens the Storage Facility

Bob Shearman the GUV project leader opens the Storage Facility

Also this week on the boiler the clamp that pulls the regulator body on to the internal steam pipe was removed. The firehole shovel protector plate was also removed. On Saturday the vacuum ejector mounting bracket was removed from the firebox side. These were items that the boiler inspector requested be removed prior to further boiler examination. In the firebox the tubeplate inspection was completed. The results can now be analysed and we can determine the amount of wear it has experienced.

In preparation for the wheeldrop axlebox packing has been prepared and the height of the loco bogie and the accommodation bogie measured. The accommodation bogie was returned to the museum this week and we must thank the National Railway Museum for making this available to us.

The main steam pipe at the top of the boiler with the regulator clamp removed.

The main steam pipe at the top of the boiler with the regulator clamp removed.

Also on Saturday we had a very successful Junior Volunteers day. The team removed the trailing driving wheel splashers and moved them to the cleaning bench. This was a very dirty job and sometime had to be spent cleaning up afterwards, which the Juniors did without complaint. It made me appreciate how careful the Sir Nigel Gresley Engineering Team has been to keep our work area so clean after 5 months of work, well done everybody.

Week commencing 25 April

Blasting of the boiler was completed this week. The boiler has now been thoroughly cleaned and descaled internally and externally and given an external coat of blue primer. Even though the boiler was blown out there was still a considerable amount of blast abrasive at the firebox end so the worst was swept out followed by washing out.

The outside of the boiler blasted and primed.

The outside of the boiler blasted and primed.

The area around the boiler and the wagon the boiler is sat on was covered in dust and the team have done a really good job cleaning the area. This included cleaning out a nearby rail point which was also oiled and operated to make sure it worked correctly. The flue holes in the copper tubeplate have also now been cleaned out in preparation for measurement.

Also this week the pipework that takes steam from the RH steam chest to the cab was removed. Also cleaning of components continued with attention turning to the brake cylinders.

Week commenting 18 April

This week saw the completion of the removal of the air brake system and vacuum brake system pipework from the locomotive. When that had been completed the remaining ashpan sprinkler pipework and the steam sands traps from the bottom of the sandboxes were removed. By the end of the week the steam heating pipework had also been removed. With so much removed from the loco cleaning of parts has now become a full time job so a large cleaning bench covered with plastic sheeting has been set up.

With all the brake pipework removed the front vacuum brake cylinders were removed. They are very difficult to get at as they are mounted below a wide plate that spans the inside of the frames. This makes them difficult to sling from above and they can’t be lifted out. From below they are fouled by the bogie rear frame stretcher and access is difficult because of the front brake shaft on the loco. So from a very confined location these very heavy cylinders have to be manipulated, turned at an angle where they can just be removed. Eventually they were lowered to the pit floor. They were then manhandled to the front of the loco and then lifted out of the pit and put with the rear vacuum cylinder already removed. A great effort by the volunteer Engineering Team.

Blasting of the boiler started this week. So far the firebox outside has been blasted and primed. The primer is very appropriately blue, A start was also made on the inside of the boiler barrel. Blasting is to restart on Monday with a planned completion on Tuesday. I must thank the National Railway Museum who shunted all the museum stock that was in the North Yard well clear as the blasting process does make a lot of dust.

What a difference a blast makes: before and after blasting the right hand side outer firebox plate

What a difference a blast makes: before and after blasting the right hand side outer firebox plate

We have been requested to make more clearance room at the front of the loco in the workshop so it was agreed to put the cab back on the frames and pinch the loco back to the buffers. That way when the wheeldrop is to be used for other locos we won’t need to be shunted from our present location. The layout was with the cab behind the frames, in front of the buffers. So on Saturday the cab was refitted. To do this the cab side mounting brackets had to be repaired as many of the holes still had the remains of the old screws in them that were cut to release the cab. Some spacers also had to be made to support the rear of the cab where the dragbox top plate had been removed. Leaving this plate off means we can work on the dragbox with the cab on.

Jon Gray and Tom Crone fastening the cab down on to the frames while supported by the crane.

Jon Gray and Tom Crone fastening the cab down on to the frames while supported by the crane.

We lifted the cab watched by a large crowd on the balcony and while supported by the crane it was bolted down. Finally the loco was pinched back and left an inch from the buffers.

Written by Dan Clarkson

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  1. David (Doncaster)

    Well done to the hard working people involved in this renovation.My grandad drove this engine on the East Coast Main line. Several family members were at the inauguration of the engine.

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